Headlines: May 7th, 2008

Strategic Health Authorities and their partners are being encouraged to find collaborative solutions to health and social care needs through social enterprise with the launch of the ‘Innovation for Life Challenge Fund’. In a parallel move, the second round of the Department of Health Social Enterprise Investment Fund has been opened today.

The ‘Innovation for life Challenge Fund’ will be available to support local councils to develop social enterprise solutions to health and well-being issues and to provide cross-sector solutions to local problems. This might include, for example, the health and housing sectors working together. The aim of the Fund is to find solutions through social enterprises to longstanding problems that have the potential to lead to real social change and improvement in health and well being.

Local partners, under the stewardship of the Health Authorities, will be expected to provide further funding equivalent to 25 per cent of their bid to the Innovation for Life Challenge Fund.

The newly opened round two of the Social Enterprise Investment Fund is now available to support the development of social enterprises in health and social care such as women’s refuges, migraine clinics and exercise programmes for the elderly, which take account of the needs of a wide range of patients and services users, particularly the most vulnerable and excluded.

The Fund is intended to stimulate and encourage the development of a vibrant social enterprise sector in the delivery of health and social care services. It aims to provide start-up funding and longer-term investment to emerging and existing social enterprises in the health and social care sector to promote sustainability. The Fund offers loans, grants and equity investments.

The Office of the Third Sector has appointed Involve, GuideStar and Headshift to form a consortium to carry out research looking at effective and innovative consultation with the third sector. The appointment flows from the 2007 Third Sector Review which highlighted that listening and responding to the views of citizens and communities is a vital part of the policy making process and a thriving democracy.

The research will be England-wide and will cover the whole of the third sector, including voluntary and community groups, social enterprises, charities, co-operatives and mutuals.